Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

September 10, 2012

When Leading By Example Doesn’t Work.

You don’t have to be standing around a group of leadership gurus for long before you hear someone say something like: “You need to stop talking about what you are doing and just go do it.” The message is clear.  You should lead by example. Less talking.  More doing.

And certainly it seems smart to lead by doing.  Leading through your actions.

But that’s not a good plan for growing your business.

First, it doesn’t pass the common sense test.  More importantly, you can’t always lead by example.  Finally, it’s ridiculous to operate under the premise that actions are more important that words. (That’s just wrong thinking.)

There are always things that you can lead by example.  You can (and should) demonstrate honesty and kindness, fairness and hard work, curiosity too.

But beyond those broad strokes you stop being able to lead by example.

Because you aren’t the best example to follow.

You don’t always know exactly what to do.  You haven’t done it before.  You aren’t even sure what success looks like.

If people are following you then they aren’t following the best actions.  Heck, you might be leading them right off the edge of a cliff.

Which is why your words matter.  Because with the right motivation and permission you can inspire people to be that “best example”.  And they’ll do a better job than ever could have done.  They’ve done it before.  They know the path.

They know what success looks like.

Which is why you need to lead with words.

Kind words. Inspiring words.  Hopeful words.

Words that you use often.  Words that you share zealously.

Words matter.  They paint a picture of a better future.  They give permission to your team to pursue greatness.

If all you do is lead by example, your business will never grow to be amazing as it otherwise could have been.  And you will be surrounded by people who are great at “Monkey See, Monkey Do” but lack the courage and conviction to let themselves be inspired to achieve greatness.

So speak up. Often.

Be a leader that your people want to follow.  But lead with words that inspire your people to be that person for themselves.

You’ll take your business farther that way.

(Despite what the experts around the water-cooler might tell you.)

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.